Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at Leader of the Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning, accusing the Likud leader of using methods "just like those of Goebbels and Stalin," against him.
Liberman's comments come two weeks after an Israeli man named Yossi Kasima came forward, claiming that the finance minister offered him $100,000 to assassinate a senior Israel Police official some 20 years ago when he was working as Liberman's aide.
"The national instigator Liberman is in an unrestrained panic. His false and outrageous words are an insult to the Holocaust."The Likud Party
Liberman has vehemently denied the accusation and has accused opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu of orchestrating criminal allegations against him.
On Sunday morning, in his latest comments on the allegations made against him, Liberman again pointed a finger at Netanyahu, saying that "his methods are just like those of Goebbels and Stalin, to make harsh and absurd accusations until people get used to that absurdity."
"This is blood libel that is very characteristic of Netanyahu's methods. The man 'remembers' events from 20 years ago and publishes them two months before the elections," he continued.
Joseph Goebbels was the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party and one of the most vocal advocates for the extermination of Jews. Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union between 1922-1953, and is thought to have been responsible, either directly or indirectly, for around 9 million deaths throughout his regime.
Moldovan-born Liberman was born in the Soviet Union himself and immigrated to Israel at the age of 20. His father was a veteran of the Red Army who later spent seven years in a Siberian labor camp under Stalin's rule.
Condemnation of Liberman's comments
Responding to Liberman's comments, the Likud Party issued a statement, saying that "the national instigator Liberman is in an unrestrained panic. His false and outrageous words are an insult to the Holocaust."
The party demanded that both Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemn the words of the Economy Minister.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid responded to Liberman on Sunday afternoon, saying that "even when we are faced with a never-ending machine of poison and incitement that is gnawing at Israeli society, the Holocaust should be left out of the conversation."
For his part, Gantz issued a statement against Liberman's words via Twitter, saying that while he "greatly appreciates Finance Minister Liberman," he "condemns his words and the unacceptable comparison to those who committed the worst attrocities in human history.
"Even in a difficult election campaign against those who seek to damage statehood and the justice system, limits must be set," Gantz concluded.
Other politicians in the Right-wing bloc issued statements condemning Liberman's words as well, including Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich, who said that Liberman was "the most dangerous politician in Israel."
Continuing, he said that the minister was "a bully provocateur, without a path and without values, who for years has been functioning as an agent of chaos spreading hatred and boycotts and dragging the State of Israel into the abyss due to his personal affairs.
"Now he is also dishonoring the memory of the Holocaust. The Israeli public must remove him in order to transform Israel to a better place."
Liberman responds to criticism
Liberman responded to the criticism of his comments on Sunday afternoon, stressing that his "goal was not to hurt anyone" and claiming that people close to Netanyahu have called Israel Police officers "the Gestapo."
"There is nothing new under the sun, Netanyahu has indeed forgotten that the people closest to him chose to call Israel Police officers 'the Gestapo,' but still remembers very well how to use propaganda methods to harm me and Yisrael Beytenu," said the finance minister. "However, I had no intention of harming anyone, and certainly not in a matter close to my heart - the Holocaust and World War II, of which my family is one of the victims."
"No one will preach morality to me and my actions speak for themselves - just as we began last year to significantly upgrade the welfare of Holocaust survivors by increasing their annual grant, so despite the repeated attempts of the poison machine to harm our daily routine, we will continue to act in the future as well."